Interview with guitarist / bassist Adam Arling (The Last Vegas, Furbaby, Warrior Soul, Urge Overkill)
INTERVIEW WITH GUITARIST / BASSIST ADAM ARLING (THE LAST VEGAS, FURBABY, WARRIOR SOUL, URGE OVERKILL)
Date: December 6, 2020
MANY PEOPLE WILL KNOW GUITARIST ADAM ARLING AS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE LAST VEGAS WHO HAVE RELEASED SEVEN STUDIO ALBUMS INCLUDING ‘WHATEVER GETS YOU OFF’ WHICH FINISHED AT #1 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2009 AND #7 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX READERS’ TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2009. I KNEW THAT ARLING PLAYED IN A NUMBER OF OTHER BANDS FROM TIME TO TIME BUT DIDN’T REALIZE HOW HIS GIGS AS WARRIOR SOUL GUITARIST AND URGE OVERKILL BASSIST WOULD TAKE HIM ALL OVER THE WORLD. DURING THE DOWNTIME CAUSED BY THE COVID PANDEMIC, ARLING HAS FOUND AN OUTLET FOR HIS CREATIVE JUICES WITH FURBABY, WHICH IS A PROJECT THAT HAS HIM ALSO HANDLING LEAD VOCAL DUTIES WHILE GETTING SOME HELP FROM SOME OF HIS MUSICIAN FRIENDS. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH ARLING FOR WHAT TURNED OUT TO BE A FUN AND INTERESTING INTERVIEW WHICH EVEN INCLUDES AN AXL ROSE ‘MELTDOWN’ STORY.
Sleaze Roxx: What prompted you to start your Furbaby project?
Adam Arling: A lot of demos piling up throughout the years, and now actually having the time prompted this project. Our modern lives move fast, but in the first half of 2020 time “stopped” for a lot of people. Like it or not, we all got some space. I’ve been trying to fill that space with creating something, intentionally to a degree unserious, so I wouldn’t overthink it, hence the project name itself. It’s also been a mental coping mechanism this year to try something, anything, fresh. I bounce lyric and video ideas off my partner — who is admittedly a tough critic — and we come up with these concepts to bend, re-shape and mess with.
And without an actual musical band to get together with, 2020 has been a perfect, no-pressure zone as well to launch something new. Any musicians reading this, we at one point or another all have this ideal, perfect band in our heads right? It’s fantasy. The Furbaby project is just some weird manifestation of that fantasy into what I think a cool, garage-rock band would sound and look like. Furbaby ain’t gonna get booed off stage anytime soon, so it was a comforting time for a self-conscious dude like myself to hang something out there. What’s the worst that could happen?
Sleaze Roxx: That’s true [laughs]. How did you go about choosing various musicians to contact to partake in Furbaby?
Adam Arling: Well, if you play an instrument, you’re on the next track! Ha. It’s loose. Thus far, I’ve reached out to friends who can plug some holes I’ve needed filling on the first five tracks. On “Boxed In”, Furbaby’s first single, I was stuck on this solo section and knew Dennis “El Guapo” Post — who I’ve really enjoyed rocking with the past two years — could rip out a Scandinavian masterpiece lick in like two minutes if I asked nice enough. He did, and it ruled. That kind of started the process. Furbaby so far is just yours truly in the studio, so it’s fun to put together little line-ups for each tune. It’s been mostly drummers so far, since my go-to-drummer brother just had a kid in LA and is understandably preoccupied. So I’ve roped in good sports like Ivan Tambac, a Warrior Soul from Spain who’s got this groovin’ unique swing feel I really dig. And Andrew “Goose” Giese — an awesome Chicago drummer/engineer who ripped it up on “Cocoa.” Pulling in various musicians has and will continue to be, a purposeful way to stay connected with friends and make something together.
Furbaby‘s “Boxed In” video:
Sleaze Roxx: Furbaby covers a pretty wide range of music. Was this a conscious thing or simply how the songs came out?
Adam Arling: For Furbaby tunes, I guess I’m consciously attempting to do two simple things. First, make each single sound really different from the previously one, and two, I am trying to not write “hard rock” songs although I’m not sure this is working. What really inspires the “sound” I’m going for in Furbaby material is this… My partner and I spend a lot of time at the beach in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. There’s young skaters, older hippies, hipsters, college kids and artsy types of all races and ethnicities just hanging out. It’s diverse and really educational to just sit there and people-watch for hours on end. I always wondered, what would be the sound-track to this scene? Kinda punk, kinda grooving, edgy yet familiar. Something with a strong beat. Music for everyone. Not saying Furbaby is that by any stretch, but that’s the goal-post. I’d like to put out a song that maybe a 16-year old girl would dig, along with the old Jamacain gentleman grilling jerk chicken for everyone in the park.
Getting totally zoned out when writing helps too. I find it productive to crank up some good guitar tone, and just stare out my studio window and play anything and what oozes out seems to be influencers like The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, The Beatles, Tom Petty, etc. Not every tune has to be an energy explosion now, but rather slow burns are the jam. Taking it down a notch and finding energy in different ways.
Sleaze Roxx: You have released a few videos for Furbaby so far including you with a Covid style mask. How has the Covid pandemic impacted you?
Adam Arling: Guess my take on a timely, fashionable look is yellow, trucker shades and a Covid bandana mask. Like a cowboy, outlaw, socially responsible kinda thing. But maybe I’m also commenting on all that masks have come to represent in 2020 as well. By wearing a mask, perhaps it subconsciously performs my civic duty, helping normalize, not politicize a simple, mindful act. Here in the USA, it’s interesting how some people see a Covid mask as an affront to their civil liberties or freedoms or something I just can’t wrap my head around. Others, at least in the city for the most part, wear a mask as a symbol of what I think says “Hey, we’re all in this together, I’m protecting you, and it’s not all about me.” I like the second one.
How has Covid affected me personally? Luckily, I’m fine thus far, but my heart truly goes out to so many friends in the music and art world whose lives have been flipped upside down this year. It’s hard enough for musicians when the economy is revving to scrape by, fighting the good fight, enriching the scene, but now it’s almost inconceivable. The same goes for booking agents, local club owners, promoters, club staff and the list goes on and on. So many people in society are affected and it’s not their fault. I truly hope that we’re reminded of the importance of maintaining the arts, the clubs, the galleries, and put tax dollars back in the hands of regular people who really need it as a lifeline. Do we want to wake up in a world 18 months from now where there’s no music clubs, or storefront theaters, or whatever, cause all the artists had to get Amazon jobs or something? That’s pretty bleak.
Furbaby‘s “Reaching Out (For Higher Ground)” video:
Sleaze Roxx: In recent years, you have been part of Warrior Soul’s line-up. I had the pleasure of seeing you guys perform at Club Absinthe in Hamilton [Ontario, Canada] back in December 2018.
Adam Arling: Yeah, the first gig on a snowy December Canadian run, and Warrior Soul’s first time to Canada in like 15 years or something?
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Yes, that’s the one! I would venture to say that Warrior Soul frontman Kory Clarke is a true rock star. How did you end up hooking up with Warrior Soul and how has it been working with Kory Clarke?
Adam Arling: A true rockstar, Kory. One of the rare breeds, no doubt. Folks like him have comfort zones on the edge of society, in the margins, as opposed to being a banker, lawyer or some traditional member of society though I bet he’d do a bang-up job in any of those roles. Could you picture Dr. Kory Clarke? Ha. Run!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] I don’t see it!
Adam Arling: I’ve had the pleasure in my life of knowing and playing with some legendary music icons. They didn’t get there by accident, at least the ones still kicking. And Kory to this day commands the stage like very few others I’ve ever seen. He can be truly electric, on fire. He can also veer quite polar and naturally has a habit of getting into a bit of trouble from time to time. You never really know what you’re going to get… as a bandmate or audience member with Kory / Warrior Soul. Ha, but I always thought that was what made punk rock interesting. Keeps you tuned in for the next act.
How’d I meet this guy? I met Kory roughly 10 years ago-ish, when he and his lady came through Chicago and crashed for two days at the The Last Vegas band loft downtown. Kory was good friends with one of our friends — Full Throttle — and they brewed up an idea to put together a one-off band opening for Crashdïet in Chicago on Crashdïet’s first US tour. Because at the time my brother and I were in the rhythm section in a lot of Chicago bands, we got roped in.
I met Kory in January outside our loft at about 9:00 am on a Tuesday morning, suitcases under each arm, big hair, flowing denim outfits, two folks that looked like they escaped from 1973 walking down the street next to the Chicago rush-hour suits going to work. I was cracking up as they approached. I’d never met him before and he’s like the most gregarious dude ever. “Hey buddy, great to meet you. Now we promise not to disturb you til rehearsal tonight. Might you point us to the nearest dive bar?” That night at “rehearsal”, he walks in with a suitcase, opens it on the counter and it’s a straight-up portable bar stocked with bottles, shakers and limes. No clothes in sight. Well that’s how this one’s gonna go, and went until the gig the next day. It’s how the dude rolls. Rehearsal was pretty good, but he was really nitpicky on drums, which I thought was cool. He’s a great drummer.
Fast forward to the next night, we’re downstairs at the Double Door about ready to hit the stage. Kory pulls out this massive spiked punk rock bracelet that’s probably classified as a weapon in Chicago, like six-inch spikes, slaps it on, then turns around to all of us with these wild eyes and screams, “Now we need some drugs”. Ha. We hit the stage and it was electricity. Not sure how good the band was, but the first song kicked ass. That’s how I met Kory, putting together an ad-hoc band in a 36 hour whirlwind.
Throughout the years after that, we’d run into each other at festivals around Europe when I was touring with The Last Vegas, and it was great to chat and say hi. I think he had guitar player immigration issues three years back, so I ended up helping ‘em out on some USA dates. Those dates extended into Canada, which extended over to Spain, which ran through a recording studio in Valencia, Spain on a day off with a pretty tight band, and we worked together on the ‘Rock ‘n Roll Disease’ album. He’s got a great group of dudes in his orbit, and it’s been a lot of fun to float around with them.
Sleaze Roxx: How much of a part did you have on Warrior Soul’s new covers album ‘Cocaine And Other Good Stuff’?
Adam Arling: I played on a few tracks on the latest album. Dennis “El Guapo” Post was handling a lot of the production in Denmark from what I saw, so I think he just threw me a few mercy bones. That dude, Dennis, is probably the best guitarist I’ve ever played with. Super fluid and technical, but can pull it back and make it sloppy, bluesy and tasteful whenever he wants. Not many people can do both. It’s incredibly hard. You can really hear Dennis and all the musicians just dominate all over ‘Cocaine And Other Good Stuff.’ The record sounds big, Kory’s vocals sound tight and fresh, and the album has gotten some great press. I’m thrilled to have had a little part of it.
Warrior Soul‘s “Back On The Lash” video:
Sleaze Roxx: What are your intentions with respect to Warrior Soul in the future?
Adam Arling: It seems to work like this. One day, I’ll notice an incoming phone call from some far off land — Poland, Belarus or Michigan, and it’s Kory and we’ll catch up and I get to see what he’s got cooking. Sometimes, it’s been recording ideas, a run of shows he’s planning, what-not. If the timing works out, it’s always a blast to join the boys for a run. He’s surrounded himself with a great group of players and personalities who aim to entertain. It’s funny, Kory does it like the blues guys do. From what I experienced and have been told, especially by John Besser and Christian Kimmit, Kory will ring up his musicians, say “Hey, learn these 25 songs, see ya on stage.” And he expects you to know all the material top to bottom, even though they changed structures live from the albums — go figure. That’s how he rolls. You gotta keep your eyes and ears open. It’s challenging, which will keep me coming back whenever the boss needs.
Sleaze Roxx: I first became aware of you when The Last Vegas rose to prominence with the album ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ which was produced by some music heavyweights consisting of Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and Marty Frederiksen. That being said, ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ is actually The Last Vegas’ fourth album. How did the band get started and take me back to the euphoria that must have been when the group won that ‘Guitar Center‘s On-Stage: Your Chance to Make Rock History’ contest opening for Mötley Crüe.
Adam Arling: 2008-09 was a unique ride for The Last Vegas in the Guitar Center / Mötley Crüe Make Rock History era. Much like most bands out there, The Last Vegas had been slugging it out for years, then caught a break and rode the wave. In one week, we went from playing in Oklahoma City for literally three people, to playing a sold out L.A. Palladium show with Mötley Crüe and hanging out with Nikki Sixx for the weekend. A real mind bender.
Historically, The Last Vegas’ first official release was with Get Hip Records in 2004. There were so many great bands back then in the underground garage/rock-revival genre, and we soaked it all in. Gregg from The Cynics / Get Hip Records invited my brother to play drums for The Cynics on their fantastic ‘Living Is The Best Revenge’ album cycle tour dates. Get Hip Records ended up putting out The Last Vegas’ first album, and we were over the moon. A real record label! Then I started playing bass with The Cynics for two years, and Nathan and I were just traveling non-stop between the USA and Europe playing all kinds of legendary clubs and obscure Euro garage festivals. Those initial years undoubtedly shaped the band.
In 2006, The Last Vegas landed a song on Guitar Hero 2, which sold over three million copies and our photo was on the front of the game box. All of a sudden, our numbers started going up, merch orders, everything. All the while, the band was just touring as much as possible, pushing it super hard, and returning road favors letting bands crash at our loft in Chicago as they’d pass through the Double Door. We were in it 24/7, working our butts off. 2007’s self-titled album was when The Last Vegas really hit their stride in the studio, in my opinion. We knew something was about to happen..
One day we got a call that The Last Vegas was one of 25 finalist bands for the ‘Make Rock History Guitar Center’ deal. Full airfare, hotel in Beverly Hills, limo rides, and we just had to play 2 songs as an audition in the Hollywood Blvd. Guitar Center parking lot. We showed up, bought a few 30-packs of Coors Light and hung out by the Beverly Hills hotel pool in leather coats and swimsuits, thinking we were all cool. The Last Vegas didn’t make the cut for the final five bands, the ones who got to play at the Whisky [A Go-Go] in L.A. where Mötley Crüe themselves picked the winner, which we were a little surprised by. Two weeks later, we’re back on tour and playing a festival with oddly enough, Willie Nelson in South Padre, Texas, when we get a call saying one of the bands had to drop out, we were number six, and could we make a flight the next day from Chicago to LA? We finished our afternoon show, hopped in the van, drove straight to Chicago and boarded a plane to LA.
At the Whisky, we played first of five bands and figured, give ’em hell for three songs and who cares right? While the other bands seemed nervous, we took an opposite approach and snuck in some friends and made a little party backstage. We shouldn’t even be here in the first place. Lo and behold, when the guys in Mötley Crüe announced the winner, it was us. As you can imagine, we went crazy that night, invited everyone back to the Grafton Hotel on Sunset for an all-nighter, woke up the next day and thought, “Was that even real?” The next day, they picked us up in a van and said “You need to spend $25,000 at Guitar Center on anything Gibson related in one hour.” That didn’t suck. We stayed in LA for about a month after that, getting a taste of LA pseudo success, recorded the album and planned out the next year with 10th Street Management. Lots of memories and we got a lot of cool photos.
The Last Vegas‘ “Whatever gets You Off” video (from Whatever Gets You Off album):
Sleaze Roxx: The Last Vegas have never been shy about changing their sound over the years. Was that a conscious decision or just how things ended up?
Adam Arling: The Last Vegas, to our credit yet — maybe not in a commercial sense — never aimed for a particular “sound.” Guess it’s just how things ended up. We liked The Stooges, Guns N’ Roses, Muddy Waters, Fu Manchu, Thrill Kill Kult, all kinds of different stuff and always thought that’s what made the band unique. We, to this day, call it the “The Last Vegas sausage grinder.” You throw all these ideas in and never know what’s going to come out. The original idea usually gets flipped around, turned inside out, and ends up a well-seasoned sausage, if you will. Chad’s vocal melodies were so uniquely weird and cool. It gave the band some room to not regurgitate the same, formularistic hard rock song, over and over. The Last Vegas’ sound is really the collision of people’s ideas, and probably impossible to recreate without a few heads colliding.
Sleaze Roxx: It must be really cool to get to play with your brother for all those years. How do you view the dynamic of two brothers being in the same band and how that has played out in The Last Vegas?
Adam Arling: It was remarkable to get to play with my brother not only in The Last Vegas, but a lot of different bands from the time we were teenagers until, well now still I suppose. It’s a tried and true band tradition, right? There’s something that just glues and sticks between brothers in a band. I feel that “glue” playing bass with Nathan [Arling] more than on guitar for some reason, but no matter what band we’re jamming with, Nathan and I have always seemed to add something beneficial to the equation. What’s equally cool having brothers in a band, is the social part. It makes it a family thing, and helps pull in the other bandmates into this collective family, tribe, or pack vibe. You can talk in a more personal way, joke in a different way, and yeah, even yell and get in fights in a parking lot in Germany cause someone’s being a lazy ass and not loading the van. Ha, but it passes and doesn’t matter the next day. With brothers in a band, it makes the band more than a band. I’ve been privileged to have experienced it for sure, and miss it now that Nathan’s in LA.
Sleaze Roxx: When we met back at The Last Vegas’ show at ‘This Ain’t Hollywood’ in Hamilton [Ontario, Canada] back in 2016, I was blown away when you guys indicated that you had opened for Mötley Crüe in Hamilton just seven years prior. First and foremost, I was pissed that I had missed your opening set since I attended that concert to see Mötley Crüe back in 2009 but also what really impacted me, and I still think about it to this day, is that it must have been disappointing for you guys playing ‘This Ain’t Hollywood’ seven years after opening for Mötley Crüe in a big arena. I kind of equate it to a professional sports athlete playing in the major leagues but a couple of years later, toiling away in the minor leagues. How did you feel about that and the fact that The Last Vegas got a taste of the big time for a while but now were not at that level anymore?
Adam Arling: Well yeah, I think everyone in the band dealt with those ups and downs, big stage to little stage each night, in their own individual ways for sure. Those venue-size dynamics were remarkably consistent from 2004 to the last show The Last Vegas played in 2017. One night, it’d be 20 die-hards, the next it’s 1000 opening for Buckcherry or someone like that. Come to think of it, the night before opening for AC/DC in Des Moines, Iowa with 18,000 people, we played to about 10. Rinse and repeat. But the bottom line is The Last Vegas all stuck together and believed in what we were doing despite club size or audience attendance.
Perhaps more importantly, we always seemed to find a way to have fun and adventure on every tour. Sure at shows like This Aint’ Hollywood, maybe we drank a few more cases of Moosehead — “the Moose is loose” was that tour’s unofficial slogan if I recall correctly — but for the most part, here’s the thing… We were all roommates in Chicago, tour mates on the road, and that was just our lives. We didn’t really know anything else, or want anything else. We were — kinda — young, writing good albums or so we thought, traveling the world, and who cares if a few shows weren’t packed. It happens for every band out there. Maybe we try a new song that night that has never played live before? Maybe we do an extended psych-jam solo for fun? Maybe we pull out some deep cuts? It’s how you deal with those less-than-ideal shows that exposes the integrity of a band, in my opinion. If you can’t handle that, go home and give the next hungry band some room.
More practically, we also made a lot of friends on the road which helps. The Last Vegas had a hotel hookup due to the only and only Jimmy Sayan, our TM — still owe ya brother. So we lived fairly well for a rock band on a tight budget. Granted that meant six dudes sleeping in one hotel room and living off of pretzels and peanut butter, but it didn’t really seem that bad. There was always a Europe tour to look forward to. Every night, we created some type of adventure or game or had some laughs with the local support acts or bar staff. We met soooo many people throughout the years, and really learned a lot about human nature I think. Would it have been preferred to stay in the tour bus and play stadiums with Mötley Crüe? Of course, but that didn’t stop The Last Vegas and I’m proud of it and all the guys.
The Last Vegas‘ “Bloodthirsty” video (from Eat Me album):
Sleaze Roxx: The Last Vegas frontman Chad Cherry moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in or about 2017 and we have not had any new The Last Vegas material since 2016’s ‘Eat Me.’ In fact, Chad released a new album under the band name The Claws since that time. That being said, I understand that The Last Vegas are working on new material. What has been the impact of Chad moving to Los Angeles on The Last Vegas and how is the new material coming along?
Adam Arling: Yeah, Chad Cherry relocated to LA in 2017. I just can’t believe it took him that long [laughs]. Some people are made for LA, and LA is made for some people. Chad’s that guy and we’re all proud of his art, clothing line and the successes he’s encountered in LA including the coolness of The Claws. They’re tracking an album now… check it out. On a side note, The Claws also feature Gary Martin on guitar, one of the most underrated rock dudes I’ve know in the past 15 years, who has this unassuming bluesy, stonesy vibe, is a great songwriter, has an insanely good voice, and can even play the drums. Keep tabs on that guy…
When Chad moved to LA, it was probably the right time for how it impacted The Last Vegas. The band had been slagging it for a while, and a little change was probably overdue. Chad’s moving initiated the recording of ‘Eat Me- — The Last Vegas’ to this date last album. The night he broke it to us, Chad and I went to the local dive bar after practice and had one of the many great heart to hearts we’ve shared. I remember saying… “You know what dude? You’re not escaping when we have all these cool demos lying around that producers never liked, but we always did. Let’s filter through the pile, pick the best 10-12 rough ideas, and we have like three weeks… Let’s track as much as we can in our rehearsal spot before you split as a send-off project.” We built up a few initial songs, sent a test single to Chris Laney in Stockholm, Sweden to mix, and next thing you know, the awesome folks at AFM Records Germany picked up the record and The Last Vegas had another album cycle life. Without Chad moving to LA, that probably never would have happened.
Once Chad got to LA, The Last Vegas just planned out longer runs of shows for touring on the ‘Eat Me’ album cycle, including hitting the USA, Canada, and five killer weeks on the best European tour we ever did, ironically enough. Then it was just time to take a little break. Now that we’ve had that break, some of us are getting antsy. We’ve sputtered a bit trying to record new stuff the past few years — the older you get, the busier you get — and most recently in April 2020 had to cancel an LA session right when the pandemic broke. Terrible timing, but the pre-production tracks we’re building up now are awesome. The Last Vegas “sound” is still there and some of the new material is reminiscent of old ideas, if that makes any sense. Hard, heavy, riffage. Danny Smash has unleashed some monster song sketches, and if the stars align, we aim to finish a few, or at least a single in 2021, and see what happens.
The Last Vegas‘ “Come With Me” video (from Sweet Salvation album):
Sleaze Roxx: The Last Vegas have released seven full-length studio albums to date. How would you rank them from your favorite one to the least, and why?
Adam Arling: Whoa, this should be fun… Here’s my personal faves:
1. The Last Vegas (self-titled). There’s just something about this album that reminds me of when we got our ‘muscle’ with Chad. The songs are cool, kinda raw, and pop-trashy. Half the album turned into ‘Whatever Gets You Off’, so it’s hard to hear the full record in its entirety now, but it’s a good listen and a time-piece for the band. An EP of it is available on Spotify, Apple Music, all that stuff.
2. Bad Decisions. This was the one album where we got to really take our time with it. Johnny K produced it, and let us take over the basement of his Chicago compound studio for two months in the winter of 2011 or 2012. We might have overthought some stuff, but the tunes are solid, the production is great, and I can remember so many fun late nights, early mornings, and really being able to work in the studio with plenty of time. You can hear a lot of layers in that album.
3. Whatever Gets You Off. This was the first album where we heard ‘pro’ production on our tunes — of which there were split opinions in the band — but what Marty Frederiksen and Nikki Sixx conjured up to shape the tracks was pretty cool. Definitely the biggest seller from The Last Vegas’ catalog and it’s catchy for sure.
4. Eat Me. I know this one’s an oddball, but I’m partial to weird things and this has some weird moments. We tracked everything ourselves in Chicago in our rehearsal studio, and laid the sessions out like a puzzle. Then we sent each track over the course of a month to the Swedish wizard in Stockholm, Chris Laney, who was mixing and basically produced the sound. He’d send a test mix back for each tune so fast, in about 2-3 hours, and we loved ‘em all. I remember sitting around our apartment in Logan Square with Igz [Kincaid] from Hessler, and Bryan W [Wilkinson], Nathan Arling, and myself would be high-fiving each other freaking out.
5. Lick ‘Em And Leave ‘Em. [I’ve got a] soft spot for the first album [laughs]. Doom producer/musician Sanford Parker recorded this and 2006’s ‘Seal The Deal’ in Chicago at Volume Studios, and it was supposed to be 2-3 tracks of time that we won in a…. wait for it, a contest. A recurring theme I guess. So we ripped through three songs in about an hour, and Sanford asked “Do you have any more?” We tracked live every tune we had, which was 10 songs. Nathan sent the demo to Gregg at Get Hip Records, and he called back about two weeks later, asked for Nathan who wasn’t home, but I said I was his brother and could I take a message. He said, “I’m listening to this demo Nathan sent me, and its like ’70s guitar rock, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith.I want to put it out.” And then we all freaked out.
6. Sweet Salvation. The tracking of this album I could write a whole book about, and still laugh, cry and get scared when thinking back to it. Roy Z, who we’d been working with right before all the Mötley Crüe stuff happened, produced this one. Super cool guy. Mr. Z, “Dr. Midnight”, entered Chicago like a tornado as we pieced things together over the next few weeks. Ten years later. Chicago still talks about Roy Z and his huge heart and appetite for life… The dude is just one of those guys. He had so many great ideas and you can hear some real shining moments. He pushed The Last Vegas in ways we were never pushed before. ‘Sweet Salvation’ was different and has its own voodoo vibe thing happening.
7. Seal The Deal. After The Last Vegas’ first singer left the band, John Wator and myself tried singing on this album and actually tracked the whole thing, ready to release. At the final mixdown, as we listened we looked at each other puzzled and said, “If we put this out our career is over. We can’t sing at all.” Billy Velvet from Crank County Daredevils told us to call Chad Cherry up, so two weeks later, we handed Chad 12 tunes and said ‘OK, we need to have these recorded in 10 days because we have a European release date set, and a two-month Euro tour playing everywhere.’ He did a damn good job, but I always hear it being rushed and not giving Chad the chance to put his Cherry vibe on it. Nonetheless, the album did surprisingly well in Europe which just goes to show what I know.
The Last Vegas‘ “Evil Eyes” video (from Bad Decisions album):
Sleaze Roxx: How did you guys come up with the band name The Last Vegas?
Adam Arling: [I’m] pretty sure I forgot or it doesn’t really matter.
Sleaze Roxx: Alright [laughs]. You are also part of the band Urge Overkill. How did you hook up with them?
Adam Arling: My brother Nathan Arling, was Urge Overkill’s drummer for a bit when the band reunited in 2004. Urge Overkill was touring at the time, and their manager offered The Last Vegas an ongoing support slot if Nathan agreed to play in both bands each night, and the rest of the The Last Vegas guys worked as roadies, techs, and handled all the merch in addition to being the support band. It was insane and really good launching the band while crisscrossing the USA, West Coast, Canada, and listening to Nash Kato stories as he lounged in the back bench at noon each day, sipping Scotch in the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan. We never slept, but got to play some great shows and represent Chicago as a touring package.
Fast forward eight years, and I get a call one day from Eddie “King” Roeser who asks if I have anything going on next month, and if I’d be up for doing an Australia / New Zealand tour playing bass. So at the time, I was touring in Spain, flew home and the next day, The Last Vegas got a call from the Guns N’ Roses management asking if The Last Vegas could open some East Coast shows. Can’t really say no to that, so I promised to do my Urge Overkill homework while in the van. After the last Guns N’ Roses’ Atlanta show — where we witnessed a backstage real deal Axl Rose meltdown… it was awesome! — I hopped on a plane with the Urge Overkill guys to New Zealand and the next day, or two days with the flight, played my first gig with Urge Overkill in Auckland. It was a zig-zaggy beginning to joining the line-up, but it’s worked out well the past few years. When Urge Overkill is on, they’re really something to watch. Nash can bring the house down vocally, and Ed is one of the best guitarists around. Such a good band. Nathan and I just try to hang back and lift them up.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] You’ve got to tell me more about this Axl Rose ‘meltdown’! I want all the details please [laughs]!
Adam Arling: For some context, The Last Vegas were playing the Tabernacle in Atlanta [Georgia, USA], on a run opening for Axl’s Guns N’ Roses. The dressing rooms at the Tabernacle are all on the second floor, lined up down a long hallway. Upon arrival, we noticed the dressing room adjacent to The Last Vegas was labeled “GnR”, which is a little odd, but since the Guns N’ Roses camp were on buses, it meant it was usually just a quick pit stop on the way to the stage for the guys to drop in and smoke a cigarette, hang for a moment, whatever, on their way to the stage.
However tonight, guys in the band were hanging out backstage. Richard Fortus, Frank Ferrer, especially were super cool dudes. Something was a little different. Per usual, Guns N’ Roses management knocked our set time back an hour, to like 10:00 pm, which was prime time for an opening band. As we got back up to our dressing room around 11:15 pm, we could hear what we thought was Axl’s voice next door… Man, maybe we meet the man tonight. We’re like kids in a candy store. Fast forward 2.5 hours (or whatever their set length was…. long) to like 2:30 am-ish, we’re just chilling and we hear some type of commotion and screaming, inching down the hallway. My brother who’s in the hallway for some reason, then gets barrelled over by an enraged, red-faced Axl yelling, screaming, ripping stuff off the walls, as he makes his way to their dressing room next door and slams the door.
Then we just hear. “Where is it? Where is my fucking bag? Oh it just disappeared on its own?” [Insert two minutes of sound of a dressing room getting destroyed here] Then, “Oh I get it, lemme see… little green martians snuck into my fucking room and stole my God damn bag? Is that what really happened?” [Insert more sounds of a dressing room getting destroyed] And the The Last Vegas guys are like in a movie, all lined up with our ears to the wall, catching every minute. Then the door slams open, some final cursing and he’s off in the night. Fifteen minutes of backstage destruction fury, Axl-style. It was awesome.
This anecdote is not half as good as Danny Smash’s hanging out with Axl on his birthday in Las Vegas after The Last Vegas opened for ’em, in Axl’s private suite with his entourage until 11:00 am the next morning, while Axl tended bar and reminisced. But that’s Danny’s memory, for another time perhaps…
Sleaze Roxx: Yes, hopefully so [laughs]! What’s the status of Urge Overkill at this time?
Adam Arling: Latest news with Urge is we were supposed to do two nights at Spain’s Azkena Rock Festival, when sadly Ed suffered a mild heart-attack the week before we were set to leave. He’s recovered and now in good health and spirits. When Ed and Nash are ready to pick up again with Urge, my bag is packed and ready. Personally, it’s been a trip playing in Urge Overkill. They were a favorite band growing up, so everytime I’m with ’em, I feel like a fanboy getting an insider peek.
Urge Overkill performing “Sister Havana” live at South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, USA in 2014:
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve also been a part of Hessler’s touring band with your buddy Igz Kincaid. How did you end up meeting Igz and end up playing in Hessler?
Adam Arling: At the time we needed a new roommate in the infamous The Last Vegas loft in downtown Chicago. No rational, clean human would dare consider it. Yet at a chaotic show in Chicago where The Last Vegas was opening for Papa Roach, at the merch booth, our buddy DJ Erik introduces us to this young little enthusiastic kid in a biker coat who wouldn’t stop asking questions about touring and obscure German metal people we may or may not have met in The Last Vegas’ past. DJ Erik whispered that this kid, Igz Kincaid, was looking for a downtown place to stay, played in a band, and worked as a paralegal, which meant he had rent money. Done!
Fast forward to today, and Igz is like a brother and we’ll be friends our whole lives. He helped out The Last Vegas immensely in the day with driving, merch, even on bass at times, and when Hessler re-configured itself a few years back and he needed a stand in bass player for some gigs, he knew I had his back. Apparently I still have the gig, but could get fired any day in proud Hessler tradition.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Will you be continuing with Hessler in the future?
Adam Arling: We’ll see what Igz Kincaid has up his sleeve in the near future. If I’m not washing my hair and there’s a drink ticket or two involved, I’m up for anything.
Hessler performing “Windy City Wild Child” live in 2017:
Sleaze Roxx: Obviously, you have a lot going on. What can we expect from Adam Arling in 2021?
Adam Arling: If we’re still in lockdown, keep an eye out for consistent Furbaby releases at https://furbaby.rocks. I’m sitting on plenty of demo ideas, but the video stuff is stealing all my time. If anyone out there makes music videos or is a video artist and wants to collaborate, call me! If the vaccine takes shape, hopefully I’ll see all you wonderful music fans at a club or venue somewhere between USA and Europe, on tour with either a rock outfit or ABBA tribute band. Joking. Not joking. I tried to give up music and get a real job three years ago and it was terrible. It’s nice for all of us to find things in life we enjoy. Simple things. A few laughs. Good friends. Making good memories. For me, that environment, those simple pleasures are sharing music whether it’s in a studio, concert hall, or the corner dive bar. That’s all I need. Be well folks, and follow the Fur!
Furbaby‘s “I Can Only Give You Everything” video: